Can WhatsApp Video Calling Challenge Dominant Skype?

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WhatsApp is one of the stereotypical Internet success stories; a platform that became massively successful and subsequently sold for billions of dollars within a matter of years of launching. The instant messaging smartphone-based application was only launched back in 2009, but it has since built up a database in the region of 1 billion people. This means that WhatsApp is by far the most globally popular messaging application.

It is not surprising in this context that WhatsApp eventually made billionaires of its founders. With the application becoming vastly popular, Facebook pounced, and acquired WhatsApp for $16 billion in February, 2014. Now WhatsApp has become part of the fabric of everyday life for many people, and new versions of the software are greeted enthusiastically.

WhatsApp – Video calling leaked

With this in mind, there is no doubt that the newest WhatsApp iOS version has generated a great deal of hype. The latest rumors about this program suggest that WhatsApp iOS version may include video calling. A report in BGR indicated that WhatsApp is ready to introduce this hotly anticipated feature in the next release, and the publication also provided some pretty solid evidence to support this notion.

BTR cited a German source, which suggests that WhatsApp is ready to introduce video calling into this application for the first time. And the German blog also provided key data and photographs to support its point of view. Screenshots have apparently been leaked from within the company, which prove that WhatsApp will indeed featured video calling in the near future. This will be a major plus point for WhatsApp going forward, and could enable the company to expand the user base of its messaging service significantly.

Although the video calling option is expected to surface in WhatsApp in the near future, the update remains in the testing phase, at least according to rumors. WhatsApp developers are reportedly beavering away on finalizing the details of the design at present, with an aim to releasing it into the public domain in 2016.

WhatsApp has yet to confirm the addition of video calling, with Facebook likely to be playing its cards close to its chest for the time being. But the German leaks do suggest that it will surface in the next update of the software. In its current edition, WhatsApp enables users to access video calling with an Internet connection, but it is suggested that the updates will enable video calling to be carried out offline as well.

Skype battle

Adding a full video calling option to WhatsApp will naturally position the application against established video services such as Skype and Apple’s FaceTime. Skype has become particularly prominent in the years since it was launched, and is by far the most widely used video calling application. It is notable that Skype also features text messaging within its software, but this is not really considered a primary function of the program, while WhatsApp in fact started out as a text and conference messaging application.

WhatsApp is set to be updated following a major virus that infected the WhatsApp software in the Apple App Store. The so-called XcodeGhost virus affected numerous apps, with over 50 infected in total, including WeChat, NetEase Cloud Music, WinZip, Didi Chuxing, Railway 12306, China Unicom Mobile Office and Tonghuashun.

But can WhatsApp realistically hope to compete with Skype? The application that was purchased by Microsoft back in 2011 for $8.5 billion has become so ubiquitous that it is easy to forget that at one time it was far from inevitable that Skype would become a success. Today, both business customers and everyday users utilize Skype on a massive scale, and in order for WhatsApp to seriously challenge its supremacy at the head of the marketplace, the software must offer something that Skype does not.

In this respect, the fact that WhatsApp has established a massive user base already will certainly be useful. If the voice and video calling options are to truly take off for WhatsApp, it seems essential that a significant number of users must migrate over from its existing services. If Facebook is able to make it convenient for its existing consumers to do this, it could achieve a pretty large user base for its video calling rather rapidly.

Facebook tie-in

Indeed, if someone is to seriously challenge the hegemony of Skype in this market, it must surely be a company that has already established itself in a related role. Facebook has shown itself to be a nifty operator in several avenues, and it can, of course, use its hugely popular social media site in order to leverage interest in WhatsApp. Facebook Messenger already supports video calling, and thus it was considered essential to add this feature to WhatsApp as well.

While numerous social media pretenders have come along to challenge Facebook, there is no doubt that the market-leader has done an excellent job in monetising its site. Facebook can claim the largest user base of any social media website, but the company has also done an exceptional job of generating profit. While social media attracts vast numbers of users, it has hitherto struggled to produce the type of revenue that one would associate with it. This is not true of Facebook, which continues to go from strength to strength, and now some of this financial muscle can be used to launch the WhatsApp video calling service.

Facebook must ensure that WhatApp is an excellent all-rounder, and that it makes good use of its already installed user base, perhaps by incentivizing them to use the video calling option. It has already been reported that WhatsApp will introduce a multi-tab user interface option, enabling existing WhatsApp users to switch between chats without having to access the main chat screen. This is an innovative feature that will provide a convenient chatting environment, and it’s the sort of function that could help WhatsApp compete with Skype.

Nonetheless, Facebook will know that it has a long, hard battle ahead to seriously challenge the market-leader.

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